ENGL301 - Critical Methods in the Study of Literature

As the gateway into all upper-level English courses, this class will introduce you to some of the major questions, concepts, terms, and approaches in literary study. We will begin by briefly considering the politics and presumptions of deciding what 'great literature' is. We will then survey the major literary genres (poetry, narrative fiction, and drama), familiarizing you with some of the principal forms within those genres (e.g., lyric poetry, realist fiction, comedic drama), and with their concerns and techniques (e.g., alliteration, omniscience, farce). Thereafter, we will spend the bulk of the semester examining and practicing the approaches for studying literature that have predominated since the early part of the twentieth century, spanning from New Criticism to Cultural Studies and New Historicism. We will discuss how these approaches imagine the function and effect of literary studies--and more broadly culture and individual identity--as well as how these approaches have evolved (and, in many cases, continue to evolve) in response to both each other and changing cultural values. We will conclude the course by focusing on literary research, which involves finding, evaluating, and referencing historical, biographical, critical, and/or theoretical material in order to enhance your own close analysis of a literary text.


Must be in English Language and Literature program; or must be in Secondary Educ: English Language Arts program.